Dedication pays off for volunteers

Nokubonga Mepeni and Mzikayise Ndzuzo, the founders of Ubuntu Bethu, a non-governmental organisation, discussing about their upcoming trip to Italy.

Founders of Ubuntu Bethu, Nokubonga Mepeni and Mzikayise Ndzuzo, symbolise hope to a number of poor and helpless children in Samora Machel.

The two selflessly give of their time to improve the lives of others and their living conditions without expecting anything in return.

Through Ubuntu Bethu, a non-governmental organisation, they teach children various forms of art with the intention of honing their skills and launching their careers.

They are passionate about community development, and they have dedicated their lives and time to giving back to the community.

The NGO works with children between the age of six years and 35.

For 17 years they have been volunteering in their community, despite a mountain of challenges they have persevered.

And their unwavering commitment and devotion have now earned them a golden opportunity to travel to Italy for a three-week programme organised by Agape, an international non-governmental organisation that recognises voluntary work.

They will jet off on Thursday August 3.

Among others, they will take part in an international seminar themed “Migration, an ecumenical view on human mobility –a journey towards economic utopias”.

They are also expected to collaborate with an Italian community radio station, towards community development.

In an interview with Vukani, Ms Mepeni said the only way to change our communities and make a meaningful contribution was through community development and volunteerism.

She said she found satisfaction in equipping young people with knowledge and skills.

But, she said, despite the love and passion she had for community development, her family wanted her to find a job instead because volunteerism didn’t put food on the table.

Ms Mepeni said the townships had a lot of talent, but struggled to realise it due to lack of guidance and mentorship.

“I always dreamed (of going) overseas one day but I knew that was a far-fetched dream because I could not afford to go there.

“It’s not always about money but it’s about making difference. We need to change our thinking that when one does something she or he must be paid for that,” she said.

Mr Ndzuzo said they hoped that the trip would open many doors for the organisation and the young people that they work with.

He said there were assumptions that people who ran community organisations were making money from them, but that wasn’t always the case.

He said the main problem volunteers faced was that they were not paid for their work and often had to beg family members to support them.

“We are all interdependent.

“We need to understand that not everything is about money, but it’s about making an indelible mark in our society,” he said.